30 October 2014

Think Tank: What to expect from the new US–Japan Defense Guidelines


Image: Flickr user Official U.S. Navy Page
Author: Ken Jimbo, Keio University

When the current Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation were released in 1997, the core strategic impulse of Washington and Tokyo was to deal with potential armed contingencies in Northeast Asia, namely regarding the Korean peninsula and Taiwan. As the US Asia strategy emphasised deterrence of and response to these contingencies, Japan reconfigured its alliance strategy from predominantly territorial defence to proactive cooperation with the US in ‘situations in areas surrounding Japan’.

In the 17 years since the 1997 Guidelines were established, there have been tremendous changes in the strategic environment, the state of the US–Japan alliance and Japan’s role in it. During the first decade of this century, the US and Japan expanded their common strategic objectives (PDF), driven mainly by the global anti-terrorism campaign.

USA: Hagel Underscores Importance of U.S.-Malaysia Relationship


DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2014 – In a phone conversation with his Malaysian counterpart today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel underscored the importance that he and the Defense Department place on the U.S. relationship with Malaysia and on the Asia-Pacific region, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

In a statement summarizing the call, Kirby said Hagel and Defense Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein discussed several security issues, including Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant activity and concerns about militant Islam in Southeast Asia.

The two leaders also discussed Malaysia's upcoming chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the continuing investigation into the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine, the admiral said.

“Secretary Hagel and Minister Hishammuddin reaffirmed their commitment to a strong bilateral relationship and reaffirmed their commitment to working together to confront global challenges,” he added.

Brunei: LATMA BRUNESIA VI/2014 LAUNCHED


TARAKAN, NORTH KALIMANTAN, INDONESIA, Tuesday 28 October 2014 – The opening ceremony of LATMA BRUNESIA VI/2014 between Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) and Tentera Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara (TNI AU) took place today at Bandara Juwata, Tarakan, North Kalimantan, Republic of Indonesia.

The ceremony started with a parade consisting of personnel from the two exercise contingents. 

On hand to jointly officiate the opening ceremony was Lt Col (U) Matyussof bin Haji Matyassin, RBAirF Base Commander and Let Kol PNB Tiopan Hutapea, DANLANUD Tarakan.

In his speech, Let Kol PNB Tiopan Hutapea hoped that the personnel involved in the exercise would gain more experience and knowledge than the previous exercises. He also emphasized that the personnel are to practice the highest standard of safety in every activities carried out as well as following the Standard Operating Procedures as mutually agreed by both Air Forces.

Industry: THALES AND QUICKSTEP TEAM UP ON HAWKEI


Thales Australia’s innovative engineering might be the first thing people notice about its Hawkei vehicle, but the company’s pioneering approach to the supply chain is also attracting attention, with Quickstep the latest Australian company to team with Thales.

“Like Thales, Quickstep is recognised for innovation and cutting-edge research,” said Kevin Wall, Thales Australia’s Vice President Protected Vehicles.

“Quickstep’s record on projects such as the Joint Strike Fighter and Lamborghini performance cars is testament to their unique skills. It’s great to see Australian companies teaming up to deliver the next generation of protected light vehicles to the Australian Defence Force.”

News Report: North Korean Mobile Missile Launchers Seen as Bigger Threat Than Nukes

KN-08 long-range missile (File Photo)

Brian Padden

SEOUL—Analysts who closely watch developments in North Korea say Pyongyang has made strides in missile launch systems that could deliver a nuclear warhead to targets as far away as the United States. The North's development of miniaturized nuclear devices and missile launchers capable of evading detection are raising concerns among U.S. military officials.

On Friday, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, told a briefing in Washington that North Korea has the right connections and technology to develop a miniaturized nuclear weapon that can be launched from a mobile launcher.

Bruce Bechtol, an associate professor at Angelo State University in Texas and president of the International Council on Korean Studies, told VOA that North Korea observers have thought for years that the country possesses that technology.

News Story: Singapore To Deploy Massive Surveillance Balloon

Tethered Aerostat Radar System (Wiki Info - Image - Wiki)

SINGAPORE — Singapore will deploy a huge tethered surveillance balloon to boost its maritime and air security, the defence ministry announced.

The helium-filled “aerostat” will be equipped with radar equipment that can spot threats from as far as 200 kilometers (125 miles) away, the ministry said in a post on its website late Tuesday.

“It will be deployed sufficiently high enough so as to have a clear line of sight over Singapore’s air and sea space,” the ministry said.

“Existing systems are facing increasing constraints, mainly due to the construction of taller buildings which prevent the systems (from) establishing a clear line of sight,” it added.

The Straits Times reported that the balloon will be able to scan up to Malacca in Malaysia for stray aircraft as well as detect small boats coming from Indonesia’s Pekanbaru.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

Editorial: Australia’s Delicate Soryu-Sub Balancing Act

Japanese Soryu class Submarine (File Photo)

By Clint Richards

The fine line between defense partnerships and alliances must be managed carefully.

Defense ties between Japan and Australia have been progressing steadily this year, with Japan quickly becoming an important partner for Australia. Since their deal for Japan to transfer military technology this July and the subsequent agreement to purchase Japanese Soryu-class diesel submarines, not to mention high-level “two-plus-two” meetings between their defense and foreign ministers, it would appear that the two countries might be drifting toward a more formal alliance. While Japan’s current administration might indeed be interested in such an alliance despite its constitutional restraints, Australia is likely not interested in any formal structure that binds it to helping defend Japan, particularly given the deterioration in tensions with China in the East China Sea over the past few years.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Japanese officials are starting to refer to the relationship as a “quasi-alliance.” They claim the rapid expansion of ties has led them to become each other’s greatest defense partner aside from the U.S., while the principal deputy director of the National Security Policy Division within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Takuma Kajita, has said their cooperation on submarine technology and Australia’s sharing of satellite intelligence reflects the growing relationship. According to Kajita, “[Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe wants to raise the relationship between Japan and Australia considerably, his instructions are very clear, and he wants good trilateral relations between Japan, Australia and the U.S.” Toward this end, Japan established on April 1 an “Australia-Japan Defense Cooperation Office” within the defense ministry to manage the rapidly growing relationship. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: North Korea’s Charm Offensive - New Cards, Same Player


By Paul Haenle and Anne Sherman

China’s tougher stance towards North Korea may be driving Pyongyang’s current wave of outreach.

For several years now, there has been a debate over the future of China’s relations with North Korea. Some analysts have said a gradual policy recalibration is taking place (PDF) as the Chinese government has grown tired of North Korea’s reckless behavior and its refusal to halt development of its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs and open its economy to market reforms. Others counter that China’s priorities on the Korean peninsula remain unchanged, despite occasional spikes in tension and discord. One person, however, appears to have concluded that Beijing has toughened its approach: North Korea’s own hereditary dictator, Kim Jong-un.
Chinese policy adjustments would not be difficult to understand. Despite Beijing providing the majority of North Korea’s energy and food assistance (PDF) since the 1990s, Pyongyang continues to defy the wishes of its generous patron by advancing its nuclear weapons program and conducting military provocations that foster instability and arms buildups in China’s immediate neighborhood. In the past, Beijing turned a blind eye to these inimical developments because of its stated interest in stability and influence on the Korean peninsula. But increasingly, China’s evolving interests as a rising major power, including improving relations with South Korea, increasing its influence and presence in the Asia-Pacific, and shaping a regional and international environment that supports its rise, are running up against the defiant behavior of its juvenile client.
Much to Kim Jong-un’s alarm, Chinese leaders have raised their level of criticism and reduced their patience for Pyongyang’s provocations accordingly. China supported a UN Security Council resolution to expand sanctions against North Korea for its third nuclear test in March 2013. A vibrant domestic debate about China’s North Korea policy has been allowed in Chinese traditional and social media circles. Most notably, President Xi was the first Chinese leader ever to visit South Korea before the North in June 2014. This snub was compounded when China failed to acknowledge in state media or send an official to celebrate Beijing’s 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Pyongyang this October. 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Industry: Is North Korea Developing Sea-Based Ballistic Missiles?

A UGM-96 Trident SLBM
(Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Ankit Panda

Evidence from satellite imagery suggests that North Korea is actively developing sea-based ballistic missiles.

According to a new report from 38 North, the blog of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), North Korea could be developing a sea-based or submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capability. 38 North bases its claims, as usual, on commercial satellite imagery analysis, which identifies a “new test stand at the North’s Sinpo South Shipyard, probably intended to explore the possibility of launching ballistic missiles from submarines or of a shipboard vertical launch ballistic missile capability.” Nothing in the report or information available on North Korea’s weapons development programs suggests that the country is anywhere close to fielding this capability in the near-term, but it nonetheless will add to South Korean and U.S. concerns about North Korea’s future plans.
Based on satellite imagery, the author of the 38 North report, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.,identifies a naval shipyard and research center with a test stand that meets the size and dimension requirements for sea-based missile testing — specifically, emulating a submarine or surface ship launch tube. The 38 North report is in line with reports based on U.S. intelligence findings that North Korea is looking into SLBMs. Earlier this year, Bill Gertz at the Washington Free Beacon reported that “a missile launch tube on a North Korean submarine was observed recently by U.S. intelligence agencies.” 

Read the full story at The Diplomat

29 October 2014

AUS: Heron to be retained to keep Australia’s unmanned aerial capability


Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston today announced the return of a Heron Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to Australia as part of a plan to ensure RAAF pilots maintain the skills to operate unmanned aerial systems until the introduction of the Triton.
 
“The Heron is a proven capability – providing ‘eyes in the sky’ for our troops in the Middle East,” Senator Johnston said.
 
“The retention the Heron following their withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year will ensure Australia remains at the forefront of this advancing technology. This is prudent planning for possible future defence scenarios.”
 
“The retention of two Heron aircraft will help create a robust development program to ensure RAAF is well prepared for the Government’s investment in the MQ-4C Triton,” Senator Johnston said.
 
The estimated cost of the Heron is $120 million over six years, including portable ground control stations initially based at Woomera, maintenance, logistics, training and renovations to facilities at RAAF Base Amberley. The contract extension with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) will be funded from within the existing Air Force budget, through a redistribution of tasks and priorities.
 
Senator Johnston said one Heron already operates at Woomera in restricted military airspace for training purposes, and a second will now return to Australia from the Middle East. The Heron’s operations will be expanded over time from Woomera to other Defence and civilian airfields, as required.
 
“The additional Heron aircraft will provide greater opportunities for training, and the development of robust tactics, techniques and procedures for operating complex UAS platforms, as well as the integration into Australian airspace,” Minister Johnston said.
 
Senator Johnston said that while Defence resources are primarily used for national security purposes, if the Heron was available it could be used at the request of state governments for civilian roles, such as assistance during natural disasters.
 
The Heron will continue to be flown by suitably qualified pilots under Defence’s robust Aviation Safety Management Program.